March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Breakfast is an important meal for growing children. Studies show that breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomach aches in the morning. Their overall test scores are higher, they concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination. So, whether they eat at home or at school, be sure your children eat a nutritious breakfast every day.
Make a Breakfast Bar
Let your kids build their own breakfast with a breakfast bar. Similar to a salad bar, a breakfast bar includes a variety of foods to mix and match. Little ones love to create unusual combinations by mixing, stacking and organizing ingredients. Will peanut butter glue the berries to a waffle? Or will yogurt smother nuts and fruit? No matter what nutritious combinations they come up with, they'll love the sense of control a breakfast bar offers. Here are some ideas.
- Peanut butter
- Low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Variety of dry cereals
- Variety of berries and sliced fruit
- Cooked apples or fruit compote
- Chopped nuts
- Raisins and dried cranberries
- Low-fat or fat-free milk
Jazz Up Cooked Cereal
For a great grain breakfast, add flavor and nutrition to cooked cereals (instant or not), such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, brown rice or whole-grain couscous.
- Use fruit juice — apple, orange, or other 100-percent juice — or low-fat or fat-free milk as the cooking liquid.
- For cooked cereal, blend in grated cheese, chopped fruit (apple, peach, banana, kiwifruit), dried fruit (chopped apricots, papaya, dates, raisins) or nuts.
- Fortify cooked cereal with dry milk for more calcium.
- Liven it up with spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves.
- Top it with fresh fruit of any kind!